Tuesday, October 9

One Corpse Too Many

A Cadfael Novel by Elis Peters.
1138 AD, Shewsburry, England. 94 corpse were hanged by King Stephen in a bloody war between him and Empress Maud yet the body count was 95. Who was the man strangled but not hanged? The murderer wanted to hide his leaf in a forest but forensic evidence was easily detected by the shrewd monk.
Brother Cadfael gets to the bottom of things and finds the murderer for Justice and for God. It is up to Hugh Beringer of Maesburry to fight the guilty is a trial by combat.
In a medieval world, Brother Cadfael is a modern thinker. He is a forensic annalist. He can spot minute details that normal people would not find and crude medieval sheriffs can't. Hugh trusted his judgment and they became friends in the process.
There are politics involved for all the characters. Some reasons explained but left the characters in the dark. As usual, there is betrayal and greed. Money was the ultimate motivator in the whole book. Cadfael thought Hugh was motivated by the secret treasury but it was actually a hidden enemy, always on the scene but not noticed until the end.
And in the end, it was not one corpse too many but three: the traitor in the camp, the secret messenger who was no hanged and the guilty person that Hugh had no choice but to kill in combat.

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